COLUMBUS – It wasn’t the sport Raiph LeVan originally chose.
Heck, it wasn’t even the event in which he wanted to compete.
But Friday at the Division III state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, LeVan did something special – he qualified for today’s state finals in the 400-meter run.
“It feels good. I came in with a pretty close field and PR’ed to qualify. I did what I had to do,” LeVan said.
LeVan exploded from his blocks, speeding around the first turn and keeping pace with the leaders, slightly behind. That’s something he hasn’t done much of in his half-season running the event. In fact, he usually lags a bit more behind in the middle before getting a kick to the finish that closes the gap and leaves him among the first athletes crossing the line.
“I did kinda stick to my game plan, but my coaches wanted me to stay kinda close to the front of the pack just so I would be with them and still have a little left at the end. I feel like it worked out pretty well,” LeVan said.
WL-S Boys Coach Joe Taylor was quick to confirm the strategy.
“This was Raiph’s best time of the year, which is exactly what you aim for at the state meet. Raiph’s ability to run a patient race has sort of become his identity. He makes sure he is within striking distance with a half lap to go and then goes all out from there. It’s going to be a close final race, and I know Raiph will be ready to go,” Taylor said.
That kick still came, pushing the Tiger junior across the line while trailing only top-seeded Riverdale’s Kyle Evans in the first heat (50.03). With that showing, LeVan now finds himself poised as the fourth seed in today’s finals. And on a day when no athlete cracked 50 seconds, his time of 50.25 – a personal record – was just a half-second from claiming the top qualifying spot.
Still, the finals will be a new day and LeVan expects he may have to improve to reach his ultimate goal, maybe even cracking the 50-second mark.
“I might have to, yeah. I think a lot of people run faster in the finals than they do in qualifying. I think it’s going to be pretty quick,” he said. “I’m trying to get a ring (by winning). It’s going to take everything I have really. I just have to go out and push myself. It helps to have someone in front of you to catch (instead of running heats). You don’t want to lose.”
Triad held its annual spring sports awards banquet, with the following athletes receiving recognition:
In softball, Abby Ehrenborg was honored as the Player of the Year and given the offensive Fighting Cardinal award. She was also commended for her First Team OHC, First Team District and First Team All-Ohio honors. Madison Dolby was given the defensive Fighting Cardinal award and was recognized for her First Team OHC selection. Ali Dixon was given the Coaches Award and was First Team OHC. Maddy Collier was Second Team OHC, Bri Eaton was Second Team OHC and Gracie Sheets was honorable mention OHC.
In baseball, Shane Ford was given the Fighting Cardinal award for pitching and recognized for his First Team OHC, conference Player of the Year, First Team District and district All-Star game selections. Briley Harlan was given the offensive Fighting Cardinal award and recognized for being named First Team OHC, First Team District and honorable mention All-Ohio. Trevor Instine earned the Coaches Award and was recognized for being selected First Team OHC and honorable mention to the district squad. Jacob Greve was honored for his Second Team OHC and honorable mention district nominations, while Dustin Bruce had a Second Team OHC and Isaiah Bruce and honorable mention OHC.
In track, Eli O’Brien was recognized as the standout athlete of the season, having won the district meet and placed at regional, as well as being a part of the 4×200 team that finished sixth at district (Daniel Brenan, Eli Crabtree, Jackson Lightle).
JWP beat St. Paris, 16-5.
Standouts for JWP (7-2) were Maddie Jenkins, Kaitlynn Stefanac, Rachel Bever (grand slam), Rose Parthemore, Makenzie Taylor and Madison Harvel.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.
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